A common man's voice - Deep Singh Sidhu
On Tuesday, 15th February 2022 around 9:30pm IST, Deep Sidhu died in a car accident close to the Kundli border near New Delhi. This is less than 5 days before the Punjab Legislative Assembly Elections on the 20th of February. Just days earlier he was campaigning at Amargarh holding a broom, the election symbol of the Arvind Kejriwal/Bhagwant Mann led - Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). His question to the audience was, “Will you pick a Kirpan or a broom”? Deep Sidhu was an attorney-at-law and Punjabi actor well known to the Punjabi community. He came to national prominence during the Farmer’s Protest of 2020/2021 in a video while articulating the complex aspects of the struggle and significance of Punjab and its farmers. A revolution was brewing that, according to him, was going to “define the next political structure/geopolitics of the entire country and South Asian region”, something which the politicians at that time were not able to see. The entire nation was confused to see a Punjabi actor with charisma, intellect and the zest to work towards the betterment of a people. This was very different from their impression of a dancing-in-the-field and Santa-Banta-joke-cracking humorous man. Even the likes of Barkha Dutt wanted him on their channel even though she expressed little interest in understanding what he had to say. What he wanted to say was that Punjab, once a land of the 5 rivers, always a land of the Sikh Gurus, is at the brink of a revolution. A land that has seen a disproportionate number of warriors and revolutionaries that have shaped the geopolitics of the sub-continent for centuries and continue to do so even now. A land that has faced off invaders as early as Alexander to the Abdalis, the Durranis and also the British in its modern history. Deep Sidhu’s knowledge of the history of the land, the aspirations of its people and his ability to engage with the common and the elite alike made him a very charismatic and influential man. For status quo parties and politicians this was too dangerous. He connected with the people especially the youth and was able to light the spirit inside of them. No self-serving or dynastic politician could survive that, whether from the AAP, Congress or the BJP. The Congress continues to build its Dalit base in the state even as it breaks into factions over leadership quarrels. The BJP since bowing down to the farmers of Punjab is already doing everything in its capacity to regain state control over the region in addition to its control from the center. While the BJP is openly Hindu nationalist, the AAP as it matures as a political party already exhibits a softer version of that same nationalism. It has already failed to keep its promises to provide justice to the victims of the Sikh genocide in 1984 and also give back control of the territorial waters to its people. None of the parties want an awakened people demanding control of their own destiny. The death of Deep Singh Sidhu in a car accident gives him a place in a long list of Sikh Activists that have mysteriously been killed in accidents over the past many decades - From Sant Kartar Singh Khalsa in 1977 who disputed with Indira Gandhi to Captain Kanwaljit in 2009 who was a voice of dissent against the Badals and also Joga Singh, all have been convenient victims of incorrectly parked trucks and speeding vans. No expert statistician is needed to draw the correlation between activism of these Sikhs and their death. In the 17th Pauri of Japuji Sahib Guru Nanak says: ਅਸੰਖ ਸੂਰ ਮੁਹ ਭਖ ਸਾਰ ॥ Countless spiritual warriors that face the battle iron And in the 18th Pauri: ਅਸੰਖ ਅਮਰ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ਜੋਰ ॥ ਅਸੰਖ ਗਲਵਢ ਹਤਿਆ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥ Countless shows of force that in the end depart away in the end Countless slaughterers with death on their hands As the Gurus have told us, there are many spiritual warriors indeed who have left their bodies engaged in their war for justice and there is no end to those indeed who continue to deceive and kill the innocent and the brave. To the brave soul of Sandeep Singh Sidhu our brother, Rest in Peace, Rest in Power!